Electronic Theses and Dissertations




Sherenda Moss



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

McNeal L Larry

Committee Member

L Green Reginal

Committee Member

Franceshcini Louis

Committee Member

Charisse Gulosino


Although college aspirations have increased over the past several decades, significant gaps in race, ethnicity and income groups remain among high school students. Students of low-income and minority backgrounds are least likely to prepare for and enroll in college. A review of literature revealed that significant disparities found among students can be attributed to the lack of academic preparation, college knowledge, resources and shared advising in high schools (ACT, 2009; Conley, 2010, Spence, 2009). Often times, low-income and minority students are susceptible to a high school culture that conveys misperceptions about their readiness for college. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between school composition, college culture, and ACT achievement in Tennessee high schools. Variables selected for study included school-level demographics, ACT composite scores and school counselor and teacher perceptions of their high school's college culture. A self-reporting survey instrument entitled College Culture and Support Structures was used to collect perceptual data from 258 school counselors and teachers at 65 high schools. The survey instrument comprised of five measures including: College Talk, Hands-on Support, Counselor/Teacher Advocacy, Resources, and College Climate. Descriptive Statistics, Pearson Correlations and analysis of variance were used to analyze the data and respond to the four research questions posed by the researcher.Results from the analyses revealed differences in the extent to which school composition, college culture and ACTachievement are related. Findings revealed a positive correlation between ACT achievement and the college culture in terms of hands-on support, resources, and college climate. A negative correlation exists between the percentage of economically disadvantage students and college culture in terms of hands-on support, resources, and college climate. The results also revealed that the correlation found between college climate and ACT composite scores, as well as hands-on support and ACT composite scores is mediated by school-level percentages of minority and economically disadvantages students in this study.As state and national efforts strengthen accountability measures for secondary schools, high school educators will be expected to help resolve the aspirations-attainment gap of graduates. By increasing our understanding of the high school's college readiness culture, we can improve students preparation and successful completion of postsecondary education.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.